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Diurnal preference and sleep quality: same genes? A study of young adult twins

Informa Healthcare
Publication Date
  • C800 Psychology
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Geography


The aims of this study were to examine the genetic and environmental influences on diurnal preference and sleep quality, the association between these phenotypes, the genetic and environmental influences on this association, and the magnitude of overlap between these influences. Using a twin design, data on diurnal preference (measured by the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire) and sleep quality (measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) were collected from 420 monozygotic twins, 773 dizygotic twins, and 329 siblings (mode age = 20 yrs, range = 18–27 yrs) from a population-based twin registry across the UK. Univariate analyses indicated that dominance genetic influence accounted for 52% and non-shared environment 48% of variance in diurnal preference. For sleep quality, additive genetic influence explained 43% and non-shared environment 57% of the variance. The bivariate analysis indicated a significant association between greater eveningness preference and poorer sleep quality (r = .27). There was substantial overlap in the additive genetic influences on both phenotypes (rA = .57), and overlap in the dominance genetic influences common to both phenotypes was almost absolute (rD = .99). Overlap in non-shared environment was much smaller (rE = .02). Additive genetic influence accounted for 2% of the association, dominance genetic influence accounted for 94%, and non-shared environmental influences accounted for the remaining 4%. The substantial overlap in genetic influence between these phenotypes indicates that similar genes are important for diurnal preference and sleep quality. Therefore, those genes already known to influence one phenotype may be possible candidates to explore with regards to the other phenotype.

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